Dr Andrew Harter, Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge-based software company RealVNC Ltd, has won a prestigious Royal Academy of Engineering Silver Medal for his outstanding personal contribution to British engineering. He will receive the medal at the Academy Awards Dinner in London on Monday 7 June from Nigel Whitehead FREng, Group Managing Director of Programmes & Support at BAE Systems, title sponsors of the event.

A practical engineer of substantial software and distributed systems, Andy Harter, aged 49, is perhaps most notably responsible for VNC. Invented in 1995, VNC (Virtual Network Computing) is a software system that provides remote graphical access to a computer screen. VNC has many applications, from systems maintenance, remote help and support, distance learning, collaboration and mobile working. It is used by every kind of organisation and individual.

Andy’s drive and vision for VNC resulted in a simple universal tool that allows any type of computer to remotely access the screen of any other type of computer. In 1998 he took the inspired step of releasing it under an open-source license. His foresight paid off, with hundreds of millions of copies of the software now in use all over the world and included in software bundles and hardware systems. VNC has enabled the creation of an entire industry, with many companies embedding VNC technology in their products, whilst others have used the VNC philosophy and techniques in parallel commercial developments.

Andy founded RealVNC in 2002 to promote VNC as a standard and to commercialise new products based on the technology. Now employing 50 people in Cambridge, the company is highly profitable with 70,000 customers in over 150 countries. RealVNC has recently launched a innovative toolkit allowing mobile network operators to provide interactive assistance to Smartphone users, while a ground-breaking partnership with Intel has launched a new chip to sit alongside the main processor providing VNC remote access as an integral part of the computer.

Andy Hopper, Chairman of RealVNC and Professor of Computer Technology at the University of Cambridge, says: “Andy combines strong business acumen with exceptional commercial flair to build a highly successful business with tremendous further potential – and he continues to maintain a keen eye and influence on the engineering underpinnings of the products.”

”I am delighted to receive the Silver Medal, and pleased that the success in translating first-rate engineering into commercial success is recognised and appreciated”, says Andy Harter. “As for the future, the elegance and simplicity of VNC is enduring and new applications constantly present themselves, such as informatics in the automotive industry, where VNC is an integral part of emerging standards. Remote access to and from consumer electronics such as the iPad is another revolutionary application area with VNC at the forefront.”

Notes for editors

  1. Andy Harter has a BA and PhD in Computer Science from Cambridge. Since then he has held executive roles in industrial research and at the AT&T Cambridge Laboratory where he was responsible for many hardware and software projects, including VNC. Dr Harter is a Chartered Engineer, a Fellow of The Institution of Engineering and Technology, a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Visiting Fellow of Cambridge University Computer Laboratory and a Fellow of St Edmund's College Cambridge. For more information see www.realvnc.com
  2. This year’s other Silver Medallists are Colin Treganza Dancer of Metaswitch Networks, Roger Ridsdill Smith of Arup and Dr Nicholas Longfield of Corus.
  3. The Academy's Silver Medals were instigated in 1995. They are awarded annually to engineers who have made outstanding contributions to British engineering but have been working as an engineer for no more than 30 years. Up to four medals may be awarded each year.
  4. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.

For more information please contact

Jane Sutton at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0636; email: Jane Sutton